German teams pledge to stay in Formula One

December 6th, 2008 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Stuttgart, Dec 6 (DPA) German car giants BMW and Mercedes pledged their continued loyalty to Formula One motor-racing but said savings had become unavoidable.Both German teams told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) Friday the decision by Japanese carmaker Honda to quit Formula One would have no influence on their participation in the sport.

“Our Formula One engagement is financially solid,” Mercedes sports director Norbert Haug said.

McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the 2008 F1 championships had provided an enormous marketing boost for the company, Haug said.

“The media and public echo generated by last season and Lewis Hamilton’s title victory was worth several times more than what we had invested financially,” he added.

Haug blamed excessive spending and the lack of sporting success for Honda’s decision to pull out.

BMW also regard Formula One as an important marketing instrument despite the global financial crisis, board member Klaus Draeger, head of the company’s research and development division, said.

“There is no better platform than Formula One to demonstrate our market value,” he said.

“BMW also uses the Formula One project as a technology accelerator for the (vehicle production) series.”

The BMW-Sauber team finished third in the 2008 constructors’ championship behind Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes, with Polish driver Robert Kubica fourth and German team-mate Nick Heidfeld sixth in the drivers’ standings.

Both Haug and Draeger said considerable savings were needed in the sport.

A proposal by the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) Thursday for a new low-cost engine and a drastic reduction on the testing limit would be “an important contribution,” Draeger said.

Earlier Friday, Honda president Takeo Fukui said Japan’s second-largest carmaker would withdraw from Formula One by the end of this year as a result of deteriorating business conditions.

“This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry,” Fukui told a news conference.

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